Well, this was an up-and-down boxing show. Unfortunately, instead of ending on a thrilling up, it kind of went splat at the end.
Who would have thought that Truax-Williams would go the distance? Moreover, who would ever have thought that Williams could hit Truax with his best shot and it still goes the distance? This bout was a snoozer for the first eight rounds, but the last two were exciting and fun to watch, and the last minute of the last round was an absolute thrillride. For both the fans’ and the fighters’ sake, it’s disappointing that such a fabulous ending could generate no more than a draw. As the old cliche says, the outcome was akin to kissing your sister; sure she’s a girl, but she’s not what you were hoping for.
Phil Williams is a monstrous puncher, and this fight was sometimes billed as an opportunity for us all to see what kind of a chin Caleb Truax has. What did we learn? Caleb Truax is as gritty as sandpaper. In the final round Williams hit Truax with everything but the corner stool, and Truax stayed vertical with his feet under him. After it was over, a broadly smiling Caleb Truax was adamant that he was never hurt, that he never felt his knees buckle, and that he only stumbled in the final round because “I caught a punch on my glove and my glove hit my face and it knocked me off balance.” I noted that his face was unmarked and he responded: “No, no! That’s because he never hit me! He never hit me with a right hand or a left hook until the final round!”
I should mention that from a financial standpoint, based on the size of the crowd, the concession sales, and the amount of merchandise changing hands, this show had to have been very successful. The St Paul Armory was packed to capacity and perhaps beyond, and I’ve never seen so many $5 beers consumed – heck, I’ve never seen so many beers consumed at any price! In addition to the local popularity of the fighters involved, some of the credit for the crowd and the buzz has to go to the Star Tribune for running Myron Medcalf’s article on Caleb Truax.
Joey Abell’s win tonight came against a game but unworthy opponent. Josh Gutcher entered the ring wearing a gray T-shirt with ARMY printed across the front. It didn’t make him look any more imposing; he looked like a boot camp runaway. Nevertheless, Abell’s knockout of Gutcher was one for the highlight reel – Gutcher went straight down like an imploded building.
Ismail Muwendo could be forgiven for feeling that he wasn’t matched fairly tonight. His opponent, David Laque, was coming off a knockout win in the welterweight division just two weeks ago. Muwendo is accustomed to seeing his opponents react to his punches, but Laque shrugged off a lot of shots before the accumulation of hard shots finally did him in. In the end it was a successful night for Muwendo, but he had to work really hard for it.
I can’t help wondering how much John Hoffman and Antwan Robertson knew about James Owens going into tonight’s fight. It turns out that Owens is the real deal – a fast, strong, and fearless fighter with good power. Tonight’s Antwan Robertson looked more like the confused and dismayed Robertson we remember from the first fight with Brad Patraw than the confident, poised, and successful Robertson who knocked Patraw down and won a decision in the rematch. Robertson had a couple of good moments on offense tonight, but not many. When Owens connected with a good shot, Robertson seemed to withdraw and go defensive. It’s proof that natural born athleticism and a fit body aren’t enough in this game: you also need a good plan and some confidence.
Charles Meier may not be a world-beater in the middleweight division, but he was a far faster and stronger puncher than Dan Copp. Copp showed toughness and a determination to compete, but he was never going to win this fight. I don’t have anything else to say about this fight. It ended the way everyone expected.
I’m still waiting to see the Derek Winston who has been called an “ultimate badass” show up to a fight. After two official fights and tonight’s exhibition against Jake Backus, he’s still not put together a convincing performance. I still believe in Winston because I’ve heard such good things about him, but I have yet to see it with my own eyes.